I am about to say goodbye to Split, Croatia, the second largest city in the country. It is unlike any place I´ve ever visited. The city grew up out of the palace of a Roman emperor called Diocletian. The meandering lanes of shops and homes are medieval, but around every corner is a surprise reminder of the Roman Empire – a lone column in a tiny square, a modern bank with ancient columns and friezes in the lobby, a Venetian campanile (bell tower) atop the emperor´s mausoleum, now a Christian cathedral. The outer walls of the palace and the four main gates corral the maze of ancient streets. Sprawling outside the walls is the Venetian part of the Old City, with broad plazas and ornate building facades.
At night, the ancient city is magical. I strolled the ancient palace, listening to the traditional klapa groups (Croatian acapella), and breathing in the slightly sour smell of the sulfur springs on the sea air. The hot spot in town is the Riva, a broad seaside promenade lined with cafes, just outside the palace. It seems like everyone in town has come to see and be seen. I licked a rich and creamy gelato cone while strolling under the palm trees and absorbing the carnival atmosphere.
Last night´s dinner was memorable. A pizzeria, usually nothing special, but at this one I tried a pizza with just mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, and white asparagus. Hands down the best pizza I have ever eaten! And simple enough to try making at home. Spread fresh ingredients on the dough, sprinkle with oregano and thyme, bake, and enjoy!